On October 30, 2020, Ariana Grande released her sixth studio album titled Positions. Not much had been said about the album before the album’s single “positions” was released, however, fans figured out that Grande was giving them clues when she posted a video on social media of her slowly typing the word “positions” on a keyboard. Very soon after this video was posted, the single and accompanying music video were released.
At one point, the single was all fans had. They had guessed that the whole album would be about Grande’s sexual pleasures and sex life — the lyrics of the song also make this suggesstion. However, the music video makes it very evident that there is a double meaning. The music video portrays a world in which it is the norm to have a diverse group of women in positions of power. Most of the video takes place in the White House. Grande is known to be quite the master at incorporating easter eggs into her music and especially her music videos. The most interesting details that fans have noticed are: a recurring clock that is set to 6:30 which is the title of one of the tracks on the album, she honours postal workers by rewarding one with a metal which correlates with the United States election and mail-in ballots, and nods to her many dogs by incorporating portraits of them in set design. In the actual music, there are some references to her late ex Mac Miller — the lyrics “love letters to heaven”, the song “off the table”, and the sound of crickets. After releasing the single, the track list was revealed to the world — the album had features by Doja Cat, The Weeknd, and Ty Dolla $ign.
A week after Grande released her single, she dropped her entire album. In a very short amount of time, she made music history. She became the first artist in “hot 100 history” to achieve three first place holders. Although, believe it or not, this was not her greatest post-album achievement. Grande occupied the first 14 spots on the Hot 100 charts… her album has 14 tracks — her entire album appeared consecutively on the charts. Remarkable is an understatement. Although her talent is undeniable, it is amazing to see a woman break these records. Grande makes it very evident that she works extremely hard and cares a lot about her music, and I do not think there could be a better reward from her listeners than the positions (pun intended) her music occupied in the charts.
I personally really enjoyed the album in its entirety. Usually, we can all pick out our favourites and least favourites, but this album made it very hard for me to do that. As one listens, it is easy to note that Grande definitely decided to change her stylistic approach, and most importantly, that she has grown as a person. Grande has always been quite transparent about the things she has gone through and what has traumatized her, and even for somebody who knows nothing about those things, her negative experiences and inner demons are quite candidly, and at times, poetically, talked about in her previous albums. The content that she wrote about in Positions alludes to her having evolved, her outlook and perspective on life having changed, and her life having gotten better. The album as a whole, in comparison to the rest of her discography, definitely demonstrates that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that things always get better despite that not always seeming like the case.
It is no secret that Grande’s vocals are out of this world and that there is nothing she cannot do with her voice. In an interview with Zach Sang, she talked about wanting to really use the parts of her voice and the skills that she has that people have not really heard before in a certain capacity. In the song “my hair”, Grande uses the highest part of her vocal register and whistle tones an entire chorus. In the same song, we hear her vocals reach the lowest they have ever reached as well. All of these artistic details are making fans anticipate live performances which tend to be where she really shows off her vocal range and ability.
If you have not already, I would definitely recommend giving this album a listen. It is nothing like we have heard before from Ariana Grande and the album has appeal to a wide range of musical tastes. Whether you are somebody who appreciates lyrics, instrumentation, or vocals, there are most definitely a multitude of things this album has to offer to you.